Employers can help reduce stigma, improve working environments for people with obesity, and make sure employee benefits cover medically necessary treatments and programs. Covering treatments for obesity can not only improve the health and well-being of employees, but it can also reduce company healthcare costs.
Employees can also play a role by advocating for their needs and for a workplace built on fairness, compassion and respect.
Here’s how to address obesity and related health insurance coverage in the workplace:
How to talk about obesity
Do say: People living with obesity.
Don’t say: Obese people, fat people or overweight people.
How to think about obesity
Do recognize that obesity is a disease, not a character flaw or lifestyle choice.
Don’t assume that workers living with obesity are unmotivated or unprofessional.
Do recognize that, for some people, diet and exercise are not enough to lose weight. Medications or surgery may be necessary.
How to communicate with employees living with obesity
Do be respectful, compassionate and open.
Don’t dismiss people’s concerns.
Don’t judge or mock people’s experiences or appearance.
What you can do to support people living with obesity
Don’t leave employees to figure out the benefits on their own.
Do learn the details of the company’s coverage for obesity treatment.
Do advocate for benefits that support people living with obesity:
Diet and nutrition programs
Prescription digital therapies
Mental health professionals, nutritionists and dietitians
Don’t go it alone. Tap into resources for employers:
How to advocate for health benefits not covered by insurance
Tell your employer what coverage would help you manage your disease: